Social media policies?

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It’s no secret. Social media is a new entity in the world of health care. So new in fact that hospitals around the globe are having to create policies and procedures to guide their employees on proper actions and etiquette. Are you aware there are actual policies and procedures out there regarding how nurses and other health care professionals conduct themselves on social media sites?

If you’re reading this blog post I would hope you understand what the term ‘social media’ refers to. Everything from social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Google + to the blogging platforms of Tumblr to WordPress.

If this all sounds foreign to you, lets recall the heated debate surrounding the nursing school student and their actions (earlier this year). If I’m not mistaken the student was eventually reinstated, but it motivated many institutions (both academic and professional) to create written guidelines in regards to social media sharing.

Recently I read that the American Nurses Association (ANA) released new social networking principles. Here are the first 2 principles (at the time of writing this post I was having difficulty viewing the ANA website):

Nurses must not transmit or place online individually identifiable patient information

Nurses must observe ethically prescribed professional patient-nurse boundaries

It comes as no surprise, since the majority of our communication these days is not in person. As a nurse we need to be aware of these new policies. Not only to adhere to them, but to also question their merit. I’m not saying these standards are 100% right or 100% wrong. What I AM saying is that it’s an active process that all nurses should take an active part in developing.

Does your institution (academic or professional) have a social media policy in place? Are you aware of its details, and are you adhering to them? And if your institution does not have a policy for social media in place, why don’t they?

In the end these new ‘hoops’ that we will have to jump through are put in place to ensure the safety and privacy of our patients. So regardless of how we may feel about the policies, I know we all want to make sure our patients do not get harmed.

Do you Facebook or Tweet or do any other social networking about your life as a nurse?

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